Plot: What’s it about?
I look back at the films of Tim Burton and, like any other director who’s been around for ages, I have some films that I like more than others. Edward Scissorhands has got to be one of my personal favorites and I even remember seeing Pee Wee’s Big Adventure in theaters. His frequent collaborations with both Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter have showcased the range of both actors and have given Burton the stage to showcase his unique brand of talent. I’m sure that everyone has their personal favorites when it comes to Burton and, believe it or not, he can actually make a “normal” film like the recent Big Eyes. But let’s face it, when it comes to the oddball horror movie with amazing music and unique characters, you usually don’t need to look much further than a Tim Burton film.
Nerdy, out of sorts Jake (Asa Butterfield) isn’t having a blast in life. His parents, Frank (Chris O’Dowd) and Maryann (Kim Dickens) send him to counseling. Jake has a story told to him by his grandfather (Terrence Stamp) about a home for “peculiar” children set in Wales. The counselor (Allison Janney) agrees, much to the dismay of Jake’s parents and off he goes. To Jake’s delight, he soon learns (upon his arrival at the “home for peculiar children”) that some of the tales his grandfather told him aren’t that far-fetched. He meets Miss Peregrine’s (Eva Green), but soon learns that a more nefarious threat exists in Barron (Samuel L. Jackson, hamming it up like you wouldn’t believe). Jake, together with is new set of friends – each endowed with a special power – must now avoid Barron and his crew all the while staying alive.
There’s a lot right and a lot wrong with this film. I’ve seen comparisons to the X-Men films with this group of teens who possess special powers and I suppose that could be fitting. But I’d like to think that Burton has given his own unique spin on things and it works here…sort of. First off, those wanting to see Eva Green might be disappointed. If you really want to “see” her, check out Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. She’s buttoned up here and never changes costume from that black suit. I have no idea if this is supposed to be a trilogy or not, but it certainly looks like it has all the right elements. And if you’re looking for an even more extreme version of Samuel L. Jackson, well he might have just topped himself. A great movie? No. Entertaining? Yes.
Video: How’s it look?
There’s no denying that Tim Burton has a designer’s eye. His movies are all visually aggressive and have a very dark and unique look to them. This one is no different and there are some not so subtle nods to Edward Scissorhands here. Presented in a 1.85:1 AVC HD transfer, this film checks the boxes in all the right places. Colors are bold and strong, though not the most vibrant movie out there, the contrast does make for an interesting look. Black levels are strong as is contrast. The pale skin of Eva Green’s character meshes well with the rather “odd” assortment of characters in the film. It’s a top notch from Fox and should give viewers what they’re expecting.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Say it ain’t so! GASP! Is there a Tim Burton movie without frequent collaborator Danny Elfman? Indeed there is. I have to assume that Elfman was busy with other duties, so for the first time in a while we’ve got a Tim Burton film without the magical Elfman conducting the score. But it’s ok. That said, the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack has a fair share of times to shine, LFE, surrounds and the like get their chance to impress and they do. The third act sports the most engaging of the surround sound and it pays off. Vocals are spot on and like the video presentation, it shouldn’t leave much room for complaint.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- The Peculiar Story – Ransom Riggs, who wrote the novel that this film was based on, dishes a bit on the film (and book) as well as a few other interesting tidbits.
- The Peculiars – The most robust feature is this one that runs over an hour and we’re provided with profiles of nearly every major (and minor) character in the film. There are tons of behind the scenes snippets as well as clips from the film. Everything you wanted to know about the characters can be found here.
- Hollows and Ex-Hollows – Contrasting the good guys with the bad, this is a look at the antagonists in the film led by none other than Samuel L. Jackson.
- Map of Days – If the time loop in the movie confuses you, this will shed a little light on it.
- Music Video – “Wish That You Were Here” by Florence + The Machine
- Photographs – We get a side by side comparison of some vintage photos and some created for the film by Riggs.
- Sketches – Some drawings by Burton.
- Theatrical Trailers
The Bottom Line
Not Burton’s best, but certainly not his worst I don’t think that Miss Peregrine’s…found it’s audience. With a budget of over $100 million, it failed to make that back domestically. I don’t know if we’ll see a sequel or not. If we do, though, I’d check it out. Above average visuals and a good soundtrack with a smattering of supplements make this one a rental.